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Question about police shootings in the US.

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sillyoldsod posted 5/4/2021 07:49 AM

My intention by starting this thread is NOT to turn this into a political debate. I'm from the UK where our history and gun culture is very different to the US where I understand in many states citizens are allowed to routinely carry firearms and it's not my wish to turn this into a 'we're right, you're wrong' slanging match.

I'm more interested in the protocol when US police officers are faced with an armed individual, whether they be armed with a gun, a knife, or basically any potentially lethal item.

As I understand it police do not intentionally shoot to incapacitate a suspect but are trained to shoot to kill.

My main question is therefore do those armed individuals (or at least those who are not so mentally ill that they are totally irrational) understand that if they do not comply with police instructions it is highly likely that they will end up being shot and killed? I do realise a proportion of offenders commit 'suicide by cop'.

I've recently watched several graphic videos of incidents involving the police that have ended with the criminal being shot dead because they didn't comply.

Secondly, is it regarded as an accepted and inevitable outcome by the law abiding general public that if an armed individual does not comply with police commands to drop a potentially lethal weapon then the individual will likely lose his or her life and deservedly so?

Catwoman posted 5/4/2021 08:22 AM

My main question is therefore do those armed individuals (or at least those who are not so mentally ill that they are totally irrational) understand that if they do not comply with police instructions it is highly likely that they will end up being shot and killed? I do realise a proportion of offenders commit 'suicide by cop'.

That's a tough one, as the videos I have seen seem to indicate that there is NOT an awareness of imminent harm when someone fails to comply with a police order regarding dropping a weapon or placing their hands above their head.

Secondly, is it regarded as an accepted and inevitable outcome by the law abiding general public that if an armed individual does not comply with police commands to drop a potentially lethal weapon then the individual will likely lose his or her life and deservedly so?

I wouldn't say "deservedly so." I believe that when an officer gives a command for an individual to disarm themselves, it should be complied with and if it is not, there are a variety of actions that the officer could take, including the use of lethal force. Every situation is different, and officers are trained to quickly read the situation and act accordingly.

What doesn't seem to get the press are the number of officers killed in the line of duty while responding to a call, serving a warrant, making a routine traffic stop, etc. It is dangerous out there for officers, and it seems to be getting worse, not better.

I believe that officers and the communities they serve need to come together and have tough discussions on community policing, the relationship between the police and the community and how to best diffuse any tensions that exist. This would require honesty, transparency and vulnerability from both sides to be successful. It would also require the support of community leadership as well as the police. I think there are several points of failure there.

My neighbor recently retired (last month) from a large metropolitan police force. He has grave concerns about young people not choosing policing as a career because of the negative attention it has gotten lately (some richly deserved, some not so). It is a concern.

Cat

Darkness Falls posted 5/4/2021 09:32 AM

Secondly, is it regarded as an accepted and inevitable outcome by the law abiding general public that if an armed individual does not comply with police commands to drop a potentially lethal weapon then the individual will likely lose his or her life and deservedly so?

In my opinion, yes. I don’t necessarily say “deservedly so”, but I guess I would say “inevitably so.” If a police officer is confronted with a threat to his or her life, I would not expect them to choose to die in order to let a criminal live. (I say “criminal” rather than “suspect” because threatening an officer with a deadly weapon is a crime.)

Just my very humble opinion.

Jeaniegirl posted 5/4/2021 12:30 PM

Sillyoldsod, you ask some great questions.

I'm from a state that is 'open carry' - meaning anyone over 18 can walk around with a gun in plain sight. It took a while to get used to that - seeing guns in grocery stores. Stores are allowed to post signs asking customers to leave their guns outside but it's not enforceable. They DO have the right to tell gun carriers to conceal their weapons as guns make a lot of people uncomfortable.

As for police officers and what is going on -- I have my own take on that. I know so many GREAT Law officers who themselves are appalled at what is going on. To me, officers shooting unarmed people or killing them in other ways is just NOT acceptable and the officers should be held accountable. I feel there should be psychological testing for those applying to be police officers. Why? Because I see a new breed of law officers, most with shaved heads and carrying a chip on their shoulder - and I feel they have just graduated from their dark bedroom at home, playing video games where blood is splattered all over -- to getting into law enforcement and some, sadly I feel, just WANT to kill people. Like a real, live video game. These people should be weeded out as we don't need Nazi police officers.

We MUST have police and I do NOT support any type of defunding of police. But they have to be trained better and the selection process must improve.

sillyoldsod posted 5/4/2021 14:36 PM

Thank you for all the replies so far.

That's a tough one, as the videos I have seen seem to indicate that there is NOT an awareness of imminent harm when someone fails to comply with a police order regarding dropping a weapon or placing their hands above their head.
It seems a crazy question to ask but is this something that's taught in schools in the US as part of the curriculum? What to do and what NOT to do when stopped by police. I watched an old video clip by a comedian called Chris Rock called 'How not to get your ass kicked by the police'. Although it is undoubtedly humourous the message it sends out seems even more relevant today than it was when the video was made, many years ago.

What doesn't seem to get the press are the number of officers killed in the line of duty while responding to a call, serving a warrant, making a routine traffic stop, etc. It is dangerous out there for officers, and it seems to be getting worse, not better.
That's very sad and I'm shocked to hear that. The murder of a police officer in the UK would always make the headlines nationally as it's such a rare occurrence.

In my opinion, yes. I don’t necessarily say “deservedly so”, but I guess I would say “inevitably so.”
Yes my use of the word 'deservedly' was somewhat crass. 'Inevitably' is what I really meant to say.

I feel there should be psychological testing for those applying to be police officers
Does this not happen as a matter of course?

Jeaniegirl posted 5/4/2021 14:48 PM

SOF, I feel the so-called psychological testing of those wanting to enter law enforcement is about as non-effective as the so-called background checks for those purchasing guns.

As for the deaths of police officers, in my line of work I DO see that taken seriously and handled correctly. Most of the time the killing of a law officer results in the death penalty in states that have it. Law officers killed in the line of duty are greatly honored with dignified memorials and parades and their families are well taken care of, financially. And well deserved.

There is a lot of information out there about black families having to have 'the talk' with their children about not resisting arrest or fighting with the police. Still unarmed black children and young people are being killed. It's not right. It's sad that race seems to play a big role in this but it is what it is -- and HAS to change.

sisoon posted 5/4/2021 15:22 PM

Hmm ... we have a video in which a young guy asked the cop who shot him, 'Why did you shoot me?' The apparently distraught cop replied, 'Because you had a gun.' And it sure looked like the guy had a gun. Perhaps the guy thought he was safe because he wasn't threatening anyone with it. But it just takes a fraction of a second to point and shoot, so I'd have a hard time sanctioning the cop or seeing him sanctioned.

We also have a video in which a 13 year old had a gun, but he had dropped it before he got shot. My guess is that the kid expected not to be shot. Should the officer have responded to the empty hands by not shooting? I think so, but I'm not sure.

I'm not sure about 'shoot to kill' per se. I'm more concerned about stray bullets doing damage to bystanders, so I think I'd like my police to shoot at the center of a target - torso, with all the vital organs - than at the periphery - an arm or hand - if one has to shoot. That seems safer than shooting to disarm.

[This message edited by sisoon at 4:04 PM, May 4th (Tuesday)]

DragnHeart posted 5/4/2021 15:35 PM

I'm more concerned about stray bullets doing damage to bystanders,

This^^^

Im Canadian but police shootings happen here as well. One incident not far from where i live happened a few months ago. Amber Alert went out that a man took his son. Vehicle description lead to his truck being spotted. Police went on a chase. Truck and police car in an accident (officer was putting out a spike strip and was hit.

When the other officers arrived man got out, shooting occured. His son, a 1yr old was in the truck and killed. Forensics determined it was one of the officers guns. Father was also shot. Died later in hospital.

Many people questioned whether the officers should have fired in the direction of the truck knowing a child was inside. Could they not have tazered him? Were they just shooting and not aiming AT him, just in his direction? So many questions.

SoHappyNow posted 5/4/2021 15:36 PM

In every class I’ve taken about gun safety, we are taught to shoot to stop the threat, and ONLY if we fear being killed. Death of the criminal is not the desired outcome but it can happen when you aim at center mass.

WhoTheBleep posted 5/5/2021 08:12 AM

Police are trained to aim center mass, at the largest possible target, which is the torso. They are trained to "stop the threat." Striking center mass is more effective. Also, it's a larger target and easier to hit when adrenaline dumps and fine motor skills are lost (which happens to humans in high stress situations). It also lessens the chance of hitting in innocent bystander because he missed the smaller target.

I don't claim to know what is going on in the mind of perpetrators, but one of the things cops are taught in training, is that many suspects resist arrest for the simple reason that they do not want to go to jail that day. They're willing to roll the dice and accept whatever consequences that could result from resisting. In other situations, domestics for example, emotions run extremely high. Most of us know that from simply being on this site. There do come times in people's lives where they just don't care whether they live or die, they are that devastated and distraught by whatever is going on in their lives. Lots of police officers are murdered simply walking up the driveway to the front door of the house where a domestic incident is taking place. Highly emotional husband's life is over as he sees it, so he's going to take as many people with him as he can. It happens. Often.

Suspects resist and use deadly physical force for many reasons. Police officers need to make life and death decisions in a fraction of a second based only on the information they have at that moment, which usually is very little. Cop sees a gun (or knife, or dangerous instrument), it starts swinging towards himself or another person. Cop shoots bad guy. It's that simple.

When cities start to burn, and qualified immunity is taken away from officers, it's no wonder retirements are spiking, and few young people are pursuing a career in law enforcement.

And yes, there is already extensive background checking and psychological testing of law enforcement candidates. These are not always foolproof. People occasionally slip through the cracks. As in any job.

[This message edited by WhoTheBleep at 8:14 AM, May 5th (Wednesday)]

annb posted 5/5/2021 09:50 AM

What doesn't seem to get the press are the number of officers killed in the line of duty while responding to a call, serving a warrant, making a routine traffic stop, etc. It is dangerous out there for officers, and it seems to be getting worse, not better.

^^^This. Hardly ever reported except maybe locally.

needing_clarity posted 5/5/2021 10:41 AM

What doesn't seem to get the press are the number of officers killed in the line of duty while responding to a call, serving a warrant, making a routine traffic stop, etc. It is dangerous out there for officers, and it seems to be getting worse, not better.

^^^This. Hardly ever reported except maybe locally.

As of May 2nd, we were only 122 days into 2021.
In those 122 days, a total of 119 law enforcement officers and 6 law enforcement K9 officers died in the line of duty.

Sergeant Gordon William Best
Sergeant Daniel Marcus Mobley
Lieutenant Jeff Bain
Deputy Sheriff Nicholas Howell
Sergeant Randall Sims
Deputy Sheriff Jonathan David Price
Police Officer Jay Hughes
Officer Brian David Sicknick
Sergeant David G. Crumpler
Lieutenant William Lyle Gardner
Conservation Officer Steven Reighard
Police Officer Arturo Villegas
Master Corporal Brian Roy LaVigne
Agent Luis A. Marrero-Díaz
Agent Luis X. Salamán-Conde
Agent Eliezer Hernández-Cartagena
Police Officer Melton "Fox" Gore
Sergeant Frederick H. "Butch" Cameron
Detective Sergeant Stephen R. Desfosses
Chief of Police Tony M. Jordan
Corporal Christine Peters
Constable Sherry Kay Langford
Lieutenant Treva Preston
Corrections Officer IV Alfred Jimenez
Police Officer Jerry Steven Hemphill
Sergeant Edward John Marcurella, Jr.
Lieutenant John Reynolds
Corrections Officer Joseph A. Martini
Deputy Sheriff Adam Gibson
Police Officer Brandon M. Stalker
Warrants Officer Toby Keiser
Deputy Sheriff Jacinto R. Navarro, Jr.
Officer Byron Don Shields
Lieutenant Frank Arnold
Special Agent Wayne Douglas Snyder
Captain Michael D'Angelo Garigan
Lieutenant Juan Rafael Rivera-Padua
Auxiliary Sergeant Louis M. Livatino
Director of Field Operations Beverly Good
Sergeant Tommy W. Cudd
Sergeant Jeffery Robert Smith
Special Agent Robert Allan Mayer, Jr.
Sergeant William Brautigam
Correctional Officer Juan Llanes
Sergeant Grace A. Bellamy
Lieutenant Michael Boutte
Special Agent Laura Ann Schwartzenberger
Special Agent Daniel Alfin
Detention Officer Robert Perez
Agent Juan Rosado-López
Patrolman Darian Jarrott
Detective Pedro Junior "Pete" Mejia
Officer Cesar Dangaran Sibonga
Deputy Sheriff Ross Dixon
Corrections Officer IV Vicky James
Investigator Eddie B. Hutchison, III
Chief of Police Timothy John Sheehan
Deputy Sheriff Donald Raymond Gilreath, III
Police Officer Mitchell Penton
Officer Genaro Guerrero
Corrections Officer IV Tawiwo Obele
Major Estaban "Stevie" Ramirez, III
Deputy Constable Manuel Phillipe De La Rosa
Sergeant Richard Paul Brown
Deputy Sheriff Michael Magli
Police Officer Horacio Dominguez
Lieutenant Eugene Lasco
Natural Resources Officer Jason Lagore
Parole Officer Troy K. Morin
Officer Carlos Mendoza
Deputy Sheriff Thomas Albanese
Reserve Deputy Constable Martinus Mitchum
Police Officer Dominic Jared Winum
Captain Justin Williams Bedwell
Police Officer II Jose Anzora
Corrections Officer III Tracey Adams
Officer Crispin San Juan San Jose
Officer Jesse Madsen
Sergeant Barry Edwin Henderson
Deputy Sheriff Stanley "Allen" Burdic
Police Officer Gary Hibbs
Border Patrol Agent Alejandro Flores-Bañuelos
Police Officer Kevin Valencia
Sergeant LaShonda Owens
Police Officer Eric Talley
Chief of Police Fred Alan Posavetz
Correctional Officer Robert McFarland
Senior Master Trooper Todd A. Hanneken
Corporal Kyle Jeffrey Davis
Trooper Joseph Gallagher
Sergeant Shane Owens
Reserve Deputy Sheriff James Driver
Trooper Chad Walker
Corrections Officer Luis Arturo Hernandez, Sr.
Police Officer William Evans
Lieutenant James Kouski
Police Officer Brent Nelson Hall
Deputy Sheriff Christopher Wilson Knight
Sergeant James K. Smith
Deputy Sheriff Thomas Patrick Barnes
Deputy Sheriff Carlos Antonio Hernandez
Border Patrol Agent Christopher Shane Simpkins
Detention Deputy Mark Edward Anderson
Corrections Officer Jimmy Garcia
Police Officer David Parde
Deputy Sheriff Terry Dyer
Deputy Sheriff Alexander Gwosdz
Police Officer Anastasio Tsakos
Corporal Keith Heacook
Sergeant Chris Ward
Deputy Sheriff Logan Fox
Police Officer Christopher Farrar
K9 Figo
K9 Riley
K9 Luna
K9 Joker
K9 Kozmo
K9 Jango

[This message edited by needing_clarity at 10:43 AM, May 5th (Wednesday)]

annanew posted 5/5/2021 11:53 AM

"deservedly so"

That's pretty harsh thinking. Why does someone deserve to die if they fail to comply with a police order? Opponents of the death penalty don't even think serial killers deserve to die.

There are lots of reasons beyond mental illness that people don't comply. Confusion can come from lots of sources - drugs, alcohol, medications, being a child and not understanding people want to kill you for no reason. That sort of thing.

grubs posted 5/5/2021 14:36 PM

As of May 2nd, we were only 122 days into 2021.

In those 122 days, a total of 119 law enforcement officers and 6 law enforcementTotal Line of Duty


Just to clarify the leading cause of death, over half, was covid19. Gunfire does come in second at 19.
Deaths: 119
9/11 related illness 1
Assault 4
Automobile crash 7
COVID19 63
Duty related illness 2
Gunfire 19
Heart attack 5
Motorcycle crash 1
Stabbed 2
Struck by vehicle 6
Vehicular assault 9

FWIW during the first four months of 2021 292 people have been shot and killed by police.

sillyoldsod posted 5/5/2021 16:28 PM

"deservedly so"
That's pretty harsh thinking. Why does someone deserve to die if they fail to comply with a police order? Opponents of the death penalty don't even think serial killers deserve to die.

There are lots of reasons beyond mental illness that people don't comply. Confusion can come from lots of sources - drugs, alcohol, medications, being a child and not understanding people want to kill you for no reason. That sort of thing.

Thanks for your reply annanew. If you look back at the thread I did attempt to correct myself for wrongly using the word 'deservedly'.....
Yes my use of the word 'deservedly' was somewhat crass. 'Inevitably' is what I really meant to say.

I appreciate everyone's input on this thread.

So another question! Would it be fair to say that different TV networks have their own agendas when it comes to police shootings, particularly when they involve members of the black community? One of the main differences between TV news networks here in the UK and those in the US is that (in my opinion) UK TV news channels try to give an unbiased factual account of an incident whereas in the US it seems to me (again just my opinion) that you have TV stations who can give a very different slant on the same incident depending on their audience's personal and political leanings?

grubs posted 5/6/2021 06:09 AM


Back in the 70s, attempted unbiased approach was the norm. Once cable news started up in the 80s channels tended towards playing their core audiences. I try to consume from both sides of the spectrum.

DigitalSpyder posted 5/6/2021 06:57 AM

I think its more along the lines that every profession has excellent people, good people, average people, and people who shouldn't be in it.

Its just that in the U.S. the police happened to be armed, we put far too much on their plate, don't provide the best training, and regulation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Qualified immunity for them in the U.S. needs to go the way of the doodoo. If they are so sure of their actions, they have a Union to foot the costs of a lawsuit, let them defend those actions in civil court like every other citizen.

Does the media play a role in how they are perceived? Of course, its been a long time since the news in the U.S. didn't come with every organization's and presenter's opinion or perception of things. It sells ads, so the fault likely lays with us, the U.S. consumer. We are the ones that pushed them into that direction. It's also not like police officers not shooting someone gets any air time.


sillyoldsod posted 5/6/2021 08:10 AM

I try to consume from both sides of the spectrum.
I'd like to think most reasonable open minded people would do this but I fear many are quite happy to have their beliefs reinforced without questioning those beliefs and where they come from.

Qualified immunity for them in the U.S. needs to go the way of the doodoo...
Qualified immunity is not a concept I'm familiar with but having very briefly read about it it's a huge can of worms is it not? Should individual police officers be liable to be sued for $$$$ for straightforward if well meaning incompetence as well as intentional wrongdoing, assuming the difference could be proven in the first place?


WornDown posted 5/6/2021 09:53 AM

Qualified immunity for them in the U.S. needs to go the way of the doodoo...

Yes.

Qualified immunity as it has evolved over time (from an initial SC ruling, not a law passed by a legislature) is beyond ridiculous.

One can only sue the actual officer if the officer knew that that act was unconstitutional. Sounds reasonable, right?

Well...The courts now interpret that to mean that unless there has been a previous case where the EXACT SAME CIRCUMSTANCES were present, then the officer couldn't have knows that (s)he was violating a persons rights, and therefore has immunity from civil prosecution. Basically, if you find a way to violate someone's rights that hasn't been brought up before, you get off - first mover benefits, essentially.

Example: Person was sitting on the ground, hands in the air and an officer sicked his K9 on said person (See: Baxter v Bracey). Qualified immunity was granted because no officer had done that before...siccing a K9 on a surrendered person while SITTING. A previous case had the person standing, but in this case the victim was sitting...So, the officers couldn't have known that he was violating the perp/victim's rights.

Bigger posted 5/6/2021 12:00 PM

Just some random thoughts on the original post and the replies:

In ALL countries – UK included – police are generally justified in using potentially lethal force if facing someone with a lethal weapon. I guess that in all countries the same requirement is made as in the US that the officer needs to be convinced there is a threat. Police in the US don’t shoot someone for simply holding a gun or knife, but they might do so if they have reason to believe the person is about to use the weapon in a violent manner. What is unique for the US IMHO is the prevalence and how common it is that this level of force is required.

I saw a rerun of The Silence of the Lambs the other day. That movie was a high-budget one that strives at being realistic. The cops in the movie all carried revolvers except for the SWAT team that had automatics, rifles and an Uzi. Compared to police today they looked more like a Boy Scout Troop. That was 1991… So much has changed.

I also remember the terrorist attack in Paris where the police were seeking refuge behind corners because their 9mm guns couldn’t match the high-power automatics used by the terrorists. You can also find on Youtube a notorious shootout in LA back in 1997 where the police were so outgunned they had to borrow rifles from a sporting goods store to equalize the playing field.

Violence begets violence. Force begets force.
---

I do think (based on shootings I have seen on Youtube) that MAYBE LEO’s need to better evaluate what force is required. I have seen recordings of officers that shoot at cars that pull away from a traffic stop or shoot someone that grapples with them and then escapes. I don’t think allowing someone to get away from arrest warrants shooting. The threat to authority should not be seen as the threat to the life of the officer.
OK – so vehicular assault is just as deadly as being shot at. But if you – as an officer – are firing at a car pulling AWAY from you I wonder if your life is really in danger.

Tasers are overrated. The time it takes to pull out the Taser, activate and aim is probably twice the time it takes to pull out your firearm and shoot. Plus you have 7-8 more chances if you miss and can be further away. Based on many recordings I have seen on Youtube I also get a sense that officers might see Tasers as a standard tactic; something that’s OK to use without real provocation or reason IMHO. It’s as if since it won’t kill them it’s OK to shoot someone with a Taser to get them to comply.

---
Maybe we need a new breed of officers. As is military veterans are sought after in the LEO environment. Other than a uniform and a firearm there isn’t really much more in common with the two careers. Maybe more emphasis on people with humanity majors or teachers, nurses and such. Police should reflect society and the biggest risk is if we have a force that can’t understand or feel empathy for the people they are dealing with because they are “different”.

Maybe we stop using the single-officer model. Having your partner a couple of yards behind you with his gun out allows you to be more peaceful.
---

I think qualified immunity is necessary. Not only that, but it’s also to the victims advantage if there are grounds for a law-suit. Like the case mentioned: If the attack by the K9 wasn’t necessary or justified the victim can sue the police and if a court agrees get’s compensation from a entity that is capable of paying. Sue the officer and all you get is the satisfaction of winning and a bankrupt officer.
What is more of an issue IMHO is what the force does to an officer who is accused of such actions.

Finally:
In my 8 years as a cop I don’t remember having to deal with a self-proclaimed attorney in each and every car I stopped or having to deal with someone refusing my authority because they are travelling and not driving or having people demand I repeat verbatim the law stipulating in detail why they aren’t allowed to drive drunk.

I remember once my colleague and I were checking for speeding. We stopped several cars, including two or three going slightly over the limit with parents and young kids. Jokingly we gave the parents an option: Accept a ticket or take the kids to the Ice-cream parlor down the road and give them all a cone of their choice. All the drivers/parents took the later option. It made the local news the next day and generally created a feel-good buzz in the community. Now I’m 100% certain that all the other drivers fined that day would sue. Society has changed and not always to the better.

Bigger – aka Grumpy Old Man yelling at Clouds…

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